Shining Tribute to an Old Friend Returns Home after 150 years

A recent donation to Heritage Frederick tells a wonderful story of a much beloved citizen, his descendants migration to the West and their dedication to their family’s roots back home in Frederick.  Charles Mantz was born in Frederick on December 7, 1807.  His parents, John and Susan Krupp Mantz were “cradle to grave” Fredericktonians and Charles was one of seven children.  On his path to the title “prosperous merchant,” Charles spent his early career in partnership with his older brothers and later in partnership with Allen G. Quynn in that family’s renowned hardware dynasty.  He was instrumental in the creation of what became the United Steam Fire Engine Company No. 3 in 1845, becoming the first President of the Company.  His last great endeavor was to serve the community of Frederick as the Clerk of the Circuit Court from 1867 to 1873.  As a gift upon his retirement, Charles, who was greatly admired by his colleagues, was gifted a stunning, silver plated ice water urn, engraved with a touching tribute.  The inscription reads: “To Charles Mantz, Esq., Clerk of the Circuit Court for Frederick County, From his Deputies, A. Fearhak, Jr., H. C. Koehler, Wm. Nash Young, Walker Y. Page, Chas H. Baugher, Arthur Potts; A Testimonial of their esteem for him as an officer and a Gentleman with their sincere regard for him as a Friend, Dec 1st, 1873;” The urn, which stands almost 2 ½ feet tall was a treasured centerpiece in the family home on East Patrick Street.

The allure of the American West during the last half of the 19th century was still irresistible to young people hoping to make a name and a living for themselves and, with the inevitable passage of time, Charles’ children were drawn away from the home of their youth. Son, Charles Gomber Mantz, first followed his sister Mary to Omaha where she moved as a new bride.  He then worked in the cattle business in Wyoming before settling in Fort Collins, Colorado. His three children, Charles, Anna and Florence were born many years after their grandfather had passed away here in Frederick in 1879, the treasured water urn lovingly displayed in their parents dining room, a constant reminder of him.  Despite never having met him, a connection in their much beloved grandfather remained.  In 1961, the three donated $300, divided between the C. Burr Artz Library and Historical Society of Frederick County (now Heritage Frederick) in memory of their grandfather.  

The stunning cold water urn, made in 1873 by Meriden Britannia Silver Company of Connecticut and decorated with a rare pattern of polar bears and icebergs, recently made the journey from California back home to Frederick, a gift of Florence, who passed away in 1992, and her son Edward B. Dewey, who has enjoyed the urn in his home for his entire life, using the piece regularly, most recently in the summer of 2021 as it dispensed ice cold lemonade at a summer family celebration.  I love the following quote that Anna found in one of her grandfather’s letters dated Christmas day 1874.

“Mr. Otis Johnson, chief clerk, William Miller, assistant, all my clerks, some few members of the bar and my neighbors, paid their respects by calling to see me and wishing me a Merry Christmas…. We dined on oysters today and have a turkey and opossum in reserve for tomorrow and Sunday ….”  The urn will be the highlight of Heritage Frederick’s holiday display, on view for Frosty Friday.  The piece will be moved to the courthouse for display in the new year.

January 1, 2023 by Amy Hunt, Heritage Frederick Curator